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Performing with Zelena Polja

For years I have been wanting to perform with Zelena Polja, Cleveland’s own adult Croatian performing Tamburitzans. However, I haven’t been able to as the performances are out of town and I was busy working and getting married. This year the festival they were performing at was in Cleveland so I had no excuse. I was in to perform with the people I grew up with. Alumni of both American Zagreb and Cleveland Junior Tamburitzans.

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I swear we started practicing in August but we really only got to practice 6 times at the most. We practiced on Saturday afternoons for about 2 hours. This includes going over vocal music, practicing with the combo (small band on the side of the stage) and learning an entire 10 minute dance to be performed in the Renaissance Ballroom in front of a couple hundred people. No pressure.

The entire group of ladies on the stage
The entire group of ladies on the stage. I’m on the end on the far right.

On performance day, we had practice at 10am. In a super tiny room but we did our best to make it work. Which was good because the stage was much smaller than we were expecting. After an hour practice, we had 2 hours to ourselves to eat lunch before it was time to get our costumes on. We spent our free time getting creeped out by people at Tower City. It is no wonder that place has gone downhill.

Friends for life
Friends for life

I don’t know why but the boys and girls always get dressed in the same room and think nothing of it. We all grew up together so we are all practically family and help each other put our nosnja (costumes) on.

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We also pass the time waiting to go on stage by taking pictures and dancing. Sometimes we start puting costumes on as early as 2pm and don’t go on stage til 5. This usually means no sitting as the costumes are pleated.

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I was completely in love with my costume. It was the choreographers costume that she has had in her collection for years and it fit me perfectly. It’s probably meant for a child but I loved it.

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The performance itself went very well and I loved every minute of it. Our group was HUGE! I was so happy with the turnout of people who wanted to perform this year as well as how many boys performed. It is always hard getting the boys involved, they think they are too cool for tamburitza.

If you want to see a video performance you can see it here.

And since Zelena Polja only performs once a year I think it is time to join Zumbercani who performs year round…. Stay Tuned

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Things that happen arround this time of the year

Snow!
Snow!

When I first signed up to run RnR New Orleans, I thought I would be able to complete a majority of my runs without any snow issues. At least until the end of November or beginning of January.  However, last week we got dumped on with snow. So I said”F*$% snow! I’m still doing my long run outside no matter what.” It was “only” 16 miles so I didn’t think it would be that bad. I dug out my YakTraks and bundled up with layers of clothes, 2 pairs of gloves and 2 sets of ear warmers and headed out for a run.

After 2 miles I was soaked up to my knees! Apparently the snow we have is very wet. I also was getting shin and ankle problems from trying to stabilize my feet the the snow. At mile 2.5 I decided to go home and run on the treadmill. It just wasn’t worth running a super slow pace, being freezing cold and causing myself injury just to “brave the snow”. Sometimes it is just dumb to run outside.

R‌eign

I finished my 16 miler on the treadmill and discovered a new show to watch, Reign! It’s a show on the CW and I am completely hooked. It’s also an awesome distraction while running on the treadmill.

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Besides running on the treadmill and watching Reign, it’s Potica baking time! I’ve spent the past couple weekends baking with my Mama and sister and we’ll continue baking through both the upcoming holidays. Baking Poticas is one of my favorite family traditions.

What are you enjoying about the seasons right now? Anyone have Christmas decorations up yet?

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Rolling in the dough, celebrating and running again

As you know, I bake poticas with my mom every year, we bake for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. This year my little sister took over grinding the nuts and making the filling which was my job for the past 25+ years.

Poticas, bringing sisters together one roll at a time.
Poticas, bringing sisters together one roll at a time.

I took over Moms job and am now rolling the dough. It’s a lot of work and I’m not sure how she makes it look so easy. After rolling out 6 different doughs, I finally got one that was nearly perfect. We roll the dough out to about the length of a table so it’s not easy.

With my almost perfect dough
With my almost perfect dough

My in-laws wanted to take me out for a belated birthday dinner. I had to cancel on the first one due to a freak allergic reaction. However, we rescheduled and I made it out last night. Have I mentioned I won in the in-laws lottery?

Group picture
Group picture

And I’m not saying that because they took us to Strip Steakhouse in Avon yesterday.

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Ryan and I were both sporting the collared shirt and sweater combo. I’ve been channeling fashion tips from the new show Ravenswood. My new guilty pleasure show.

And the best news ever, I’m running again!!!! Just a little bit though. I took off a complete week and then Monday and Tuesday I ran 2 miles. Slowly. On the treadmill. Wednesday I ran 3 miles outside and this morning I ran 4 miles outside. In that week off we went from fall like temps to winter temps.

Bodhi's first snow
Bodhi’s first snow

We woke up Tuesday to a couple inches of snow on the ground. I was pretty sure Bodhi would be a wimp about it but he jumped right in and loved it! He was shaking from the cold but still wanted to play.

The goal for running now is to get a longish run in on Saturday and see how my rib cage holds up and if all is well I may be able to get a half marathon in at the end of the month and then start training for the Green Jewel 50K.

Oh and before I forget! I’ll be blogging for the Cleveland Marathon 2014, so happy to be included in this event!

bloggerbadge2014.SRV_1383923707There are 2 discount codes available if you register before November 21st! Use 2014RACM for $10 off the Full Marathon registration price or use 2014RACHM for $5 off the Half Marathon registration.

 

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Tamburitza

Ok this post is LONG over due, but I’ve been fairly busy lately. So better late than never.

I may have mentioned here or there that my family background is of Croatian heritage and that I grew up performing in a Croatian folk group, The American Zagreb Junior Tamburitzans.

The American Zagreb Junior Tamburitzans perform traditional Croatian songs and dances and also learn to play folk instruments. The members of the group usually range in age from 5-18. Most members join at a young age and stay until they go off to college. The group does one big concert in the spring, travels to the Croatian Fraternal Union Festival every year (travel all over the U.S., Canada and to Croatia), as well as performs at picnics, churches, and as a guest group for other junior groups.

For me, this is a family tradition. My mom and her brothers performed in this same group when they were growing up and my Uncle is the musical director for both American Zagreb and Cleveland Junior Tamburitzans (that’s right there are actually 2 junior groups in Cleveland and there are adult groups as well).  I joined the group when I was 4 years old and performed with the group until I was 18. When I was little I had no idea that not everyone did this, to me it was as normal as going to school, something everyone did. 

That’s me on the right.

For the big anniversary years, the group brings back the alumni and has them perform for the big concert of the year. This year was the 55th anniversary!

Program Book Cover

When I heard they were doing the alumni concert this year I was stoked! I missed performing so much, it was a huge part of my life growing up.

*I have limited digital pictures from anything before 1999 but the one on the left is at least 10 years old. The one on the right is about a month old. I have known these girls since I was 4 years old and we are all still friends today.

       

After just a few practices, us alumni were ready to go. I was kind of shocked how fast we learned everything. It’s like learning to ride a bike, you never forget how to play your instruments and the dance steps come back fairly fast as well.

     

*Please note that these are pics my Mom took. Clearly I get my photography skills from her.

Sorry no video of the alumni performance, you’ll have to settle for these random pictures I found on Facebook. Yes I am aware that one is really blurry 😦

       

 I have no idea if this video will work but we’ll give it a shot. This is a video of the final dance from the junior group kids. They did such a great job, so many talented individuals in the group.

I am so happy that I was able to come back and perform with them this year. However, I look forward to many years of watching my little sister perform with them!!!!!

                       

Anyone else have some unique family traditions? Speak another language or play an instrument? All of our songs and dances are performed in Croatian language and I can play Brac and Prim (which most of you have no idea what that is).

Perfect day to post this since Croatia plays Italy in the Euro Cup today.

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Holiday Comforts

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The holidays have to be one of my favorite times of the year so I would like to share some of my favorite Holiday Comforts. I blame my Mother for my love of the holidays, she has always been a fan of Christmas decorations, baking, Christmas music and even likes to call herself “Miss Chris Christmas”. I was such a fan of Christmas music growing up that they had to tell me that it was bad luck to listen to Christmas music until Thanksgiving Day. Actually, I think what happened was I used to listen to Dominick The Donkey on repeat…year round and everyone got sick of it. Ever since then Christmas music waits until Thanksgiving, but the first CD that we listen to is Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers Once Upon A Christmas.

Most families have some kind of holiday tradition that they do every year. In my family it is baking, sounds pretty common but we don’t just bake cookies though, we bake Poticas (nutrolls). We start making them a few weeks before Thanksgiving and bake every weekend until Christmas. In case you were wondering, we make a couple hundred between Christmas and Thanksgiving. It is a lot of work and takes up the first part of your day but it is one of my favorite family traditions and gives me time to chat with my family. My Grandma baked them with her mom and then taught my Mom and baked with her and now my Mom bakes with me. (do you see a pattern here 🙂 )

Another holiday comfort of mine is Christmas movies. No joke my DVR is full of Christmas movies right now. I record every Christmas movie I come across. Some of my favorites are Santa Clause The Movie (the original from 1985), Elf, Home Alone, A Christmas Story, It’s a Wonderful Life, Bad Santa, Holiday in Handcuffs, A Smokey Mountain Christmas (super duper cheesy but I still love it), Disney’s Prep and Landing, and just about every Lifetime, Hallmark and Disney Christmas movie there is. Way too many to list right now.

             

 My last Holiday Comfort is snowglobes and a Christmas shadow box. Most get excited to put up the tree and hang the stockings. Not me, I could easily skip that. Give my my snowglobes and put out the Christmas shadow box and I am one happy girl.

  

What are some of your Holiday Comforts? Any unique family traditions? Favorite Christmas Movie? Favorite holiday item?

Comfort is the perfect gift for everyone on your holiday gift list, so be sure to take advantage of Tempur-Pedic’s Buy 2, get 1 free pillow offer! I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective

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A Croatian Sunday Afternoon

From an American Saturday Night to a Croatian Sunday Afternoon.

Sunday was my little cousin Gus’s First Communion Party. Don’t tell my little sister that I am blogging about his party and not hers (which was over Easter Weekend…a couple months ago, oops!). Looks like I am not winning Sister of the year this year.

To celebrate Gus’s big day family and friends got together to celebrate with food (pork and lamb not hamburgers and hot dogs), drinks and good music.

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Tambura Band

 For those of you who do not know I come from a Croatian family of musicians, although everyone has been playing for so long that you really don’t even think of it that way. We don’t play traditional instruments though, we play Croatian Folk Instruments (Brac, Prim, Bugarija, Bass, Celo etc). We all start playing around 7 or 8 years old and its one of those things you don’t forget. Yes, I play as well. Aaannnnd I probably just lost 50% of my readers by saying that just now.

My Uncle pictured above on the far left is the musical director for both the Cleveland Junior Tamburitzans and the American Zagreb Junior Tamburitzans, aka super talented. His son is next to him and also super talented (and only like 14 or 15).

Since I am pretty sure 99% of my readers are lost and do not know what I am talking about I took a video to share with you. My apologies for the quality of the video, it was taken on my little point and shoot camera.

 

Tambura Band
 

Of course with all that good Croatian music we had to break out into a kolo! A kolo is a dance where everyone holds hands and there is usually no movement above the waist. Aaaannnd I probably just lost another 25% of my readers. 

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Kolo!
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Gus in his musical debut

My cute cousin Gus was not one bit shy to perform in front of family and friends. Hopefully, I’ll get a picture and video of my sister playing soon.

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Hamburger Cookies!

 I thought these Hamburger cookies were just too cute. I even went home and made some for the Manchild’s Birthday. I still bake snacks for him and send them to work for his birthday.

I have to give my Aunt credit for introducing me to these amazing little cookies. Here is the recipe if you are interested. And hopefully, with the sharing of that recipe my readers won’t desert me 🙂

P.S. I have some running posts coming soon. I am inbetween training plans and “winging it” for now

Now that you all know I am a big dork. How many readers did I just lose?

 

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Super Busy Weekend

While most of my weekends are pretty busy, this weekend was even more so. It was filled with running, more running, football, dinner with friends, becoming my Sister’s God parent/confirmation sponsor, Easter dinners with family (yes that’s plural, 2 dinners, I’m stuffed), more running and while I’d love to tell you all about it I am pooped. And I picked up one of these…

Oh Yeah Baby!

 Now if you’ll excuse me I am about ot go whoop butt in Just Dance 2. Also you should tune into Bert the Conquerer tonight, he is featuringthe  Tough Mudder race on his show. Might be a new adventure for me….

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It’s Potica Time

Every year around now (Easter), my Mama and I start making Potica’s on the weekends. (We also bake them for Thanksgiving and Christmas but I didn’t have a blog back then so that’s why you are getting the story now)

Oh, what’s that you say? You don’t know what a Potica is? Well I feel bad for you. You are missing out on some delicious goodies. Potica, pronouced poh-teet-sah (Croatian), or nutroll (English) is hmm, sounded easier to describe in my head, but basically it is dough filled with a walnut filling or poppy seed.

Baking Potica’s with my Mama is something I have been doing forever. Well at least since I was old enough to stand on a stool to work the mixer. So let’s say I’ve been making them since I was 4. And my Mama was making them with her mama before that and so on and so on. It’s a family tradition. We bake in my Grandma’s basement/makeshift bakery kitchen and it’s a great way to catch up since we are stuck baking together for a couple of hours.

In order to explain this better I took lots of pictures and tried to skip the boring parts. Mom starts by making the dough, no pictures of that because it is pretty boring. Unless you want to see someone stand next to a mixer for an hour. We were making 30 Potica’s this day so we needed 10 dough balls. We eventually turn each dough ball into 3 Poticas, so 3×10=30 (look Mom math!)

Dough Ball

This is where it gets fun. Mom takes care of rolling out the dough. I have to give her props because it is pretty hard to do and quite the workout. We cover a table with a table-cloth covered in flour to roll out the dough.

Halfway through rolling out the dough
Fully rolled out and waiting for the filling

The filling is where I come in. While Mom is rolling out the dough I am working the mixer.

Fluffing up some egg whites
Melting some butter and heating milk on the stove
And grinding up the nuts

Once the butter is melted I add sugar to it and mix it with the grinded nuts and then fold in the egg whites. Then it’s time to pour the filling onto the dough.

Filling
Spread the filling evenly across the dough
And then "roll it on the floor"
Ok not quite on the floor
Cut the dough into 3 even sections and put into foil covered pans (pans are also sprayed with Pam)

Once we are done doing this 10 times we start the actual baking of them.

Coat the tops with egg yolk and milk mixture

Bake for 30 mins and then switch them around in the oven and then bake for another 30 mins. 1 hour total.

Halfway through baking we switch them around so that they cook evenly
Bake 6 in an oven at a time

My Sister showed up a little late but she jumped in to help for a few.

Look how cute she is in her apron
And look how boring my apron is

While waiting for the rest of the Poticas to bake I passed the time playing Jenga and Uno with my sister and doing this to her.

I crunked her out. Check out her grillz and hoodie!

And bake to baking, the finished product.

All done! The 3 black looking ones are poppy seed. We did one batch of that towards the end

And that’s pretty much how I spend my Saturdays and Sundays when I am not running.

Any other weekend bakers out there? Has anyone else tried to make these or at least tasted these?

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Run Song Of The Week

Ok so I can pretty much guarantee that most of my readers have not heard this song. Actually it’s like 3 songs but it’s hard to find Croatian songs on YouTube. So here is Bunjevacko performed by Lado. Feel free to skip and start at about 1:50 into the video (the opening is kinda slow).

Is it just me or are the boys showing off in this video…